Dell and Ubuntu certify latest model of XPS 13 ultrabook

Computer giant's Project Sputnik extends to the 2022 model series

Dell's latest XPS 13 ultrabook is now certified for version 22.04 of Ubuntu's operating system.

Starting next month, the "developer edition" of Dell's long-running XPS series of thin and light laptops, the Alder Lake-based 2022 XPS 13, will be available with "Jammy Jellyfish" pre-installed, but existing owners can install it now and get full driver support.

This isn't a big surprise, the previous version of the laptop was certified to run the previous Ubuntu LTS. The announcement is the latest installment in Dell's decade-old "Project Sputnik" program, although there were some bumps and it did take a few years to reach worldwide availability.

For now, five models of XPS 13 seem to be the only certified devices, but more will follow. Canonical lists three whole manufacturers – Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

There are several reasons this matters. For one, if you're a big customer buying thousands of units, you want assurance they will work. The certification lends legitimacy to both companies, and the work that went into the drivers will help compatibility on other machines.

The device's keyboard is "zero lattice" instead of a chiclet design. This means that there are no gaps between the keys. While that sounds good, the keyboard's total flatness and 1mm key travel do not. The trackpad blends seamlessly into the glass fascia, which looks neat but will doubtless make it hard to locate by eye or by touch, especially the all-important tap zones in the lower corners.

The keyboard has no physical top row, which includes the function keys and Esc/PrtScr/Home/Ins/Del. Instead there are illuminated hotspots in the fascia above the numbers row. When you hold down the Fn key, the illuminated spots shift sideways to reveal different symbols. We haven't tried the device, but this seems like it will be inaccessible to users with vision issues.

The machine also has just two USB-C ports, and all internal components apart from the SSD are soldered in place and can be neither replaced nor upgraded.

Regular readers may have already ascertained that this sort of device is very much not the sort of kit that The Reg FOSS desk favors.

Still, that hasn't harmed sales of Apple's MacBook Air. It's amusing to note, though, that the recent Apple Silicon MacBooks have returned many of the devices Apple removed in 2016: physical function keys, scissor-switch keyboards instead of butterfly switches, headphone and HDMI sockets, and SD card readers. The new M2-powered MacBook Air even brings back the MagSafe power connector.

Could it be that Apple has worked out something that hasn't reached Dell HQ just yet? ®

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